Who is my (meaning me, Dan Russell's) great-great-great-great-great-great-great advisor? (And why is that an incredibly cool thing to know?)That is, who was my advisor's-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor was (back 7 PhD generations).
Answer: Simeon Denis Poisson (one of the greatest mathematicians of the early 19th century).
|Simeon Denis Poissonmy advisor's-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor|
(Image from Wikimedia)
How to find out: Well, by now you know who my advisor is--Jerome Feldman. (He was my advisor at the University of Rochester, although he is now at UC Berkeley.) He's been the advisor for a LOT of students. (As someone pointed out, I work with 4 other Feldman students at Google.)
But probably the simplest way to figure out my great (* 7) advisor is to use The Mathematics Genealogy Project advisor tool. If you start with my name and work backwards - Daniel Russell - you'll find that I'm a descendent of S. D. Poisson.
And the simplest way to discover the Genealogy Project advisor tool is to search for my name and the title of my thesis. Like this:
[ Daniel Martin Russell "Schema based problem solving" ]
The Genealogy Project tool shows up pretty high in that list. As several readers pointed out, once you do the search and notice that there's a tool labeled "genealogy," the rest is simple.
Why use my full name in the search?
Lesson 1: Because different kinds of sites use different conventions for naming individuals. For genealogies, typically you want to use the full name. (But be careful; you still might have to hunt around on name variations. Geoffry vs. Jeffry vs. Jeffery, etc.) I used my full name here because I know that this is the convention for official documents (and the PhD degrees are very, very formalized).
And then, you just work backwards from me:
Daniel Martin Russell (1985)
Jerome Arthur Feldman (1964) - advisor
Alan Jay Perlis (1950) - grandadvisor *1
Phillip Franklin (1921) - * 2
Oswald Veblen (1903) - * 3
E. H. (Eliakim Hastings) Moore (1885) - * 4
H. A. (Hubert Anson) Newton (1850) - * 5
Michel Chasles (1814) - * 6
Simeon Denis Poisson (1800) - * 7
And of course Poisson's advisors were the even more famous mathematicians / physicists Joseph Louis Lagrange (1754) and Pierre-Simon Laplace (~1760).
Still, I like Poisson as one of my great-advisors because his Poisson distribution is used so often in statistics and computer science. (1) When I first learned about a Poisson distribution and figured out how it works, I felt... empowered. It sounds silly, I know, but for the first time in my undergraduate career, I felt as though I'd learned something that I would never have figured out on my own. It was my first moment of mathematical awe and surprise.
I never imagined that I was intellectually related to the man himself. That was a second great surprise.
But perhaps the best / coolest thing is that his name is one of 72 French geniuses inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. (As both Sarah and Ramón pointed out.)
Lesson 2: Be sure to look for a tool that can do the computation for you. Sometimes (especially for repeated information links, like we see in this kind of a problem), you'll find a tool that will do the heavy lifting for you.
More on parrotfish tomorrow.
(1) Background: In the context of queueing theory the Poisson distribution is a pretty good model for how items arrive into a queue that needs to be managed. Queues are pretty fundamental to the way all computers work, so everyone in CS needs to learn this at one point or another.